Salman Khan may have been released on bail in the black buck poaching case but the last two days were nightmarish for the family. As India’s biggest star spent his first (sleepless) night in a prison in Jodhpur on Thursday, back home in Mumbai friend relatives and well-wishers continued to pour into the Khan’s residence at Galaxy Apartments in Bandra, Mumbai. Salman’s mother was not attending to guests. She had gone to sleep after hearing the numbing news about her son. But his father Salim Khan was there to attend to the guests. And in great spirits,
says Shatrughan Sinha, a family friend and self-professed well-wisher of Salman and his family, “My daughter Sonakshi reached Salman’s home much earlier than me and spent a lot more time with the family. We are very close to the Khan family and have the highest regards for Salman and his parents. I spent a lot of time with Salim Saab on Thursday evening. It is always a pleasure to spend time with him. He is so well-informed. I call him Salim Pandit. The current crisis(Salman’s imprisonment)has not made him lose his sense of humour at all. He was full of life and very optimistic about his son’s release soon.” Well, the optimism wasn’t misplaced as Salman was granted bail on Saturday.
Shatrughan Sinha thinks the court verdict has been harsh. “With due respects to the legal process and to the honourable judge, I feel Salman has suffered enough in this case. What is his crime? And it’s not just a five-year sentence that seems very harsh to me. It is actually twenty years since Salman has been in and out of Jodhpur courts and prison. Plus the five years that the Honourable Judge has awarded him now. So it’s in reality a total of 25 years’ sentence. And why only Salman? There were others with Salman that night when he is alleged to have gone hunting in Jodhpur. He couldn’t have gone alone. His friends must have been with him in the alleged crime. Why have they been let off without a sentence? Not that I am not happy for them. I am! Saif, Neelam, Sonali Bhendre and Tabu, are all wonderful human beings. But so is Salman. He is one of the kindest most generous human beings I’ve seen. Always ready to help the needy. Salman is a silent giver, We don’t know even half of the charitable work that he does because he doesn’t do it for publicity. Salman’s friends who were out with him that night with him deserve to be freed from the constant fear of being held guilty for a crime they probably never committed. They are good human beings. But so is Salman. Why give him a prison cell when there’s so much he can do from the outside? Give him community work as punishment. He will happily do it.”
However the actor-politician refuses to sympathize with producers whose films may be stuck if Salman is imprisoned. “They knew what they were getting into. They knew there was a serious court case hanging over him. They went into their projects with Salman with their eyes open. We can’t say, ‘Don’t send him to prison because the under-production projects will suffer.’ Every convict that goes to prison leaves behind unfinished projects. Why is an incomplete multi-crore film more important than a house that an incarcerated architect leaves unbuilt, or a novel that an author leaves unwritten?”
Shatruji feels Salman is paying a price for being the Salman Khan. “I really feel Salman is being punished for being who he is. If he was a commoner he would not have to suffer for twenty-five years for a crime he may or may not have committed.”
Adds actor Samir Soni whose wife Neelam was also accused in the same black-buck case, “Your stardom or celebrity status goes against you when people try to make an example of you to deter others. It's a double edged sword, it's fine when it's with you but when it's against, it cuts deep. Salman paid the price for being Salman.”